Rumor had it that the Anza-Borrego desert was in bloom most dramatically at Ocotillo Flats, the huge outwash fan from Coyote Canyon at the northern end of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. My father, stepmother, and brother (all of whom live in northern San Diego County), wanted to enjoy the show, so my wife and I decamped from her brother's house outside San Diego and moved to my father and stepmother's place in North County for a few days. We picked up my brother (who worked that morning [March 10]), then we drove back to Anza-Borrego in the afternoon for our second sojurn.
After we descended the steep, dramatic highway leading down into the desert, we reached the abomination of a town called Borrego Springs, and turned north out of town, driving through irrigated organge groves and out into broad Lower Coyote Canyon. The pavement ended and we began a long, slow drive on a rocky, uneven, and rutted sand and dirt road up through the canyon. The wildflowers were most impressive just after the pavement ended, but we pushed on to get away from the crowds and into the desert.
Aptly named, Ocotillo Flats is a broad outwash from Coyote Canyon and supports mostly ocotillos, many of which were in bloom. We traveled up the canyon and forded Coyote Creek twice, then parked my brother's SUV when the road got too bad to travel further. Then, we walked up the canyon to the third crossing of Coyote Creek where our way was blocked by very dense thickets of willow. Intrepid hikers had cut a path through the willows, and we could have crossed to the other side if we'd wanted to, but the water was deep enough that we would have gotten wet. So, we bushwacked up the canyon off trail and away from the road until we came to a side canyon's outwash that was full of blooming cacti and ocotillos. I made this image of a cactus garden there.
After we returned to the car and made out way out of the canyon, dusk was settling in. We drove out of the desert and then westward, back toward the coast. On our way back to my dad's house, we stopped at the Pala Indian Reservation and had dinner at the casino's buffet.